The 2024 jury for the Jan Wallander Prize

Staffan Scheja

Staffan Scheja

Staffan Scheja is Professor and Adviser to the vice-chancellor at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

Staffan Scheja made his debut as pianist at fourteen with conductor Herbert Blomstedt and the Swedish Radio Orchestra. After studies for Prof. Gunnar Hallhagen at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, he was accepted to the Juilliard School in New York, studying with Rosina Lhevinne, Ilona Kabos and Ania Dorfmann.

In 1975 he received the highest prize in the Busoni International Competition. Since then he has given concerts all over the world with conductors such as sir Simon Rattle, David Zinman, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sixten Ehrling, Okko Kamu and with orchestras such as the Munich Philharmonic, the French Radio Orchestra in Paris, the NHK in Tokyo, the English Chamber Orchestra and with all the major Scandinavian orchestras.

He has made numerous recordings with EMI, BIS, Vanguard and LCM and has received two Swedish Grammy Awards.

In 1995 Staffan Scheja received the Royal medal ”Litteris et Artibus” for prominent artistic achievements.

Staffan Scheja is a frequent adjudicator in competitions such as Queen Elisabeth, Sendai, Clara Haskil and Stanislav Neuhaus.

He is the founder and artistic director of the Gotland Chamber Music Festival on the island of Gotland in the Baltic sea and resides in Stockholm.

He is also vice chairman of the Royal Academy of Music in Sweden.

Nina de Heney

Nina de Heney

Double bassist Nina de Heney has for many years been one of the strong profiles of improvisational music in Scandinavia and Europe. She has developed a very personal musical language on her instrument both in her acclaimed solo recordings and in long collaborations, such as in the duo with pianist Lisa Ullén and dancer Anna Westberg with whom Dance’nBass was founded, a festival dedicated to dancers and double bassists.

Hans Backenroth

Hans Backenroth

Hans Backenroth (b. 1966), with his groove-infused sound known for its warmth and elegant, lyrical solos, is one of the most prominent bass players in Scandinavia.

His rise to prominence began as far back as his 20s, when he played with Nisse Sandström and the Fredrik Norén Band. It didn’t take long before he was chosen to play with such luminaries as Arne Domnérus, Rebecka Törnqvist, Kjell Öhman, Ulf Wakenius and Claes Janson. During the 1990s, Hans collaborated extensively with Monica Zetterlund. Together, they undertook several tours, performed on television, and Hans also played on Monica’s last three albums. Among his long-term collaborators, tenor saxophonist Bernt Rosengren must be mentioned, with their partnership starting in 1987 and still ongoing. Hans has also played with many international stars, such as Harry “Sweets” Edison, Clark Terry, Roger Kellaway, Scott Hamilton, Toots Thielemans, Kenny Barron, Karin Krog, Ed Thigpen, Doug Raney and Eddie Daniels.

He travels and tours internationally and, for twenty years now, has played with the Sweet Jazz Trio, a chamber jazz ensemble. Hans has played on over 200 recordings and has put out two albums of his own, the latest of which is titled “Parker’s Mood”. This album was selected best tribute album by the Lira music magazine, and voted third best recording of the year by Jazz magazine. It also received attention internationally, for example in Japan. Other awards include Wermländska Sällskapets Culture Award in 2016, and the Swedish Musicians’ Union Award in 2019.

“Hans Backenroth is maybe the best bass player Sweden has ever produced!” (Arne Domnérus, Alto saxophone and clarinet, Swedish jazz legend)